Forming a collective: how to set up and register a housing cooperative

·2-min read
The 13 members of the original Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in 1865 (Creative commons)
The 13 members of the original Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in 1865 (Creative commons)

The first housing cooperative was founded in Rochdale in the 1860s and today there are almost 700 in the UK, many of which are in London.

They provide an alternative, more affordable model to private rent or home ownership but setting up one of your own can be a complicated and intimidating process.

The first thing you need when you’re considering setting up a housing cooperative is to find is a group of like-minded people — they might be your current or past housemates, or people with another specific shared interest.

To make things official, register your collective with the Financial Conduct Authority.

Once registered, you will have to start submitting annual returns and accounts.

You will also need to start thinking about what rules you want to put in place to regulate how your co-op will be run.

These could include what will happen to your co-op property in the future, and how much notice members need to give before moving out.

Talk to other collectives to find out about their set-up and borrow the best ideas. You can find out about London projects here:

You will also need a business plan for how much rent you will pay and the costs you will face, as well as loan repayments you need to allow for repairs and maintenance.

You should also try to build up a bit of a slush fund for repairs (or if a resident defaults on their rent). Groups that can offer help with this include Catalyst Collective (

Once you have these in place you can start looking for a property and a mortgage.

Most co-ops combine a bank loan with loan stock but you will also inevitably need to fundraise or draw on savings to cover any shortfall.

For further information, visit or

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